Transformations in Body and Spirit

Competitive mind-manipulation is the process to which I am subjecting myself this morning. On one face of the process, I am shocking myself more thoroughly awake by drinking an intense demitasse of expresso. The other face attempts to sooth me by burning, across my desktop, a patchouli incense cone. Acknowledging and promoting two competing processes, experimental though it is, holds promise. Increasingly, I feel a profound, acute alertness—alongside a growing tranquility…unfortunately disturbed by a return of a mild headache. That headache that seemed to have left permanently two days ago returned to its aimless wandering, bringing it back around to me. Just an observation; not a well-defined complaint. The hoped-for payoff of the competitive mind-manipulation process is that I will approach tomorrow afternoon’s return to the oncologist’s office—for an injection—with serenity. In connection with what I envision as an uneventful drive through the freezing rain predicted for tomorrow before, during, and after my cancer clinic visit, I intend to feel an intensely (but extremely) laid-back sense of self-confidence and control; almost a beckoning welcome to all who come. I will practice this later today and tomorrow before I wander off through the ice and snow (and, probably, cold dry roads). Successful competitive mind-manipulation must be implemented slowly, like a spill of thick molasses making its way to the edge of a cold marble table-top.


Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

~ Søren Kierkegaard ~


This morning’s balmy temperature at 6:30 was 12°F. Then-current windchill would have made a person feel like the temperature was actually just 1°F. A twenty-one-degree boost is forecast to take place by mid-to-late afternoon. Tomorrow, though, below-freezing temperatures for most of the day will be accompanied by freezing rain and mixed precipitation.  All-wheel drive in the Subaru, I hope, will not turn the trek into town tomorrow into a stress-fest. Damnit, John! Stop infecting every passing thought with carcinogenic undertones and/or overtones.


I made the call yesterday to close the church today, postponing the worship and new member recognition/installation service for two weeks hence. Though the temperatures are expected to rise during the day, the low double-digit temperatures of last night refroze snow and ice melt, no doubt. And the streets in so many places in the Village remain dangerously icy. So, after considering whether it would be safe to go ahead with today’s service, I figured delaying a Sunday service is far less potentially catastrophic than, after inviting people to attend, people getting injured or worse as they try to make their way to church. I made the call, incidentally (and for the record) after seeking input from the minister and a couple of others.


Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.

~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr. ~


I hope I soon will devour a big bowl of creamed salmon over rice. The idea of “comfort food” seems a bit corny to me, but I know it’s a real thing. Some people like carb-rich foods for comfort; others go for sweets; others, still, go for…who knows what? Creamed salmon over rice, with white pepper sprinkled on top of the creamed salmon, somehow takes me back to a time when I felt no insecurities, no existential fears, no real worries of any kind. I wonder how extremely young I must have been at that point in my life. Whenever it was, though, the deep, comforting appeal of creamed salmon somehow made it into my mind. And there it has stayed for lo these many years. My adoration of creamed salmon over rice competes neck-in-neck with Chinese congee, a savory rice porridge whose flavors can be transformed with just a few ingredients. I like to use a touch of ground pork, grated fresh ginger, chicken stock (in lieu of plain water) for boiling, soy sauce, sambal oelek, maybe some fish sauce, crispy fried shallot rings as a condiment…whatever. Back to my hopes. I do not expect them to be granted immediately or, for that matter, in a matter of weeks or months. It is not an expectation. It is more of an aspiration. I suppose.


Even though I do not get out a lot on a regular basis, regardless of the weather, these last two weeks (more or less, yes?) of hospitalization and subsequent self-imposed isolation/quarantine have begun to make me stir-crazy. But I can take it. All I have to do is manipulate my mindset. This post seems to be all about manipulation; control of my external environment, my internal landscape, or a combination of the two. An attempt, I am now beginning to understand, to find a sustainable stability that will allow me to explore everything my mind holds. This exploration, by a 70-year-old man, may seem to some to be too late to start. I choose not to be limited by my age or any measure of how much more aging will be available to me. Instead, I will make strides toward places or ideas I have not seen for forty or fifty years. How far I get is not so important; finding the right map and following it is what counts.


I am incredibly fortunate. In spite of coping with the heartaches and dangers we naturally encounter as we goes through life, I recognize how easy my life has been thus far. The “challenges” have been minor in comparison with the obstacles placed before people whose lives are defined by mental and/or physical pain. If I wake up every morning and give at least a few fleeting moments to thinking about this reality, I think it will make me even more grateful for my life and more empathetic toward people whose lives periodically spin into chaotic turmoil and pain.


Good morning. It is a good morning, isn’t it?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Transformations in Body and Spirit

  1. Thank you, Salli and Patty, for your comments. Salli, your thoughts provoke some introspection in me.

  2. Salli Forbes says:

    Every morning can be good. Our mindset controls the extent that we search for the good. We are a lucky species, since we have the ability to live in several realities and times. Goodness and peace may be found in retrospection and in projection.

  3. Patty Dacus says:

    It is a good morning, indeed!

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